Why Some Baltimore Charging Stations Are Padlocked

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Some EV drivers have noted that padlocks have appeared on three of the four Level 2 charging stations in the Arena Garage in Baltimore City preventing them from being used. I reached out to the City of Baltimore to ask why.

According to Chance Dunbar, off-street parking manager for the Parking Authority of Baltimore, the three charging stations have been removed from service because of low demand for EV charging in that garage. “We cannot keep these spaces reserved and empty, so until demand increases they will not be utilized for EV vehicles only.”

Frank Lee, an energy analyst in the city’s Department of Public Works said there have apparently been many ICE drivers demanding to use those parking spaces on the 2nd level of the garage. Mr. Lee indicated that there have been no EV drivers that have requested to use the charging stations. Continue reading

National Park Service: No Free EV Charging

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Catoctin Mountain Park Seeks NPS Waiver to Open Public Charging Stations

Last Sunday, I learned that five EV charging stations at Catoctin Mountain Park that are supposed to be available to the public have not been turned on since they were installed in December last year. The project cost $69,580 as part of a US Department of Energy and National Parks Initiative to support clean transportation and educate park visitors on the benefits of cutting vehicle emissions and petroleum use. At the Visitor Center parking area, a sign identifying the charging stations is covered by a dark plastic bag.

I reached out to the park superintendent who directed me to a staff member who has been working to get the EV charging stations open. When I spoke with her this week, she explained the challenges of navigating the National Park Service rules and regulations related to providing public access to the equipment.

When the park originally requested funding for the project through a U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities grant, they had planned to let the public use them free of charge. The staff researched other National Parks that had charging stations and found that only a few examples existed at the time. Catoctin chose to base their plan on the model of Zion National Park. Zion used ClipperCreek Model CS40 charging stations with Liberty Access Technology keypads that use codes that are not dependent on WIFI or a network connection. The keypads were to be there only as a contingency in case the park wanted to control access in the future. Continue reading

Catoctin Mountain Park EV Charging Stations

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Status: Inoperative
While touring around Maryland in our EV this weekend, we decided to drive up to Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont to check on the EV charging stations there. The National Park Service and the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities, have partnered in a project to deploy EV charging stations in a number of National Parks including the Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park and Catoctin. One of the stated goals of the initiative is to “educate park visitors on the benefits of cutting petroleum use and vehicle emissions.”

On the Clean Cities website, it says that Catoctin Mountain Park will install electric vehicle charging stations for park and public use. Information found online suggests that a request for bids for construction of five EV charging stations at three locations at the park was solicited in July, 2015 with a project magnitude of $60,000 – $80,000.

The Catoctin Mountain Park Facebook page announced the charging stations on December 18, 2015 with a photo of the Park’s new C-max Energi car plugged in. The caption said, “Although the charging stations aren’t quite ready for visitor use, they will be soon.”

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When we arrived at the Visitor Center parking lot Sunday afternoon, the sign on the two ClipperCreek stations was covered with a dark plastic bag. I went inside and asked the Rangers about the status of the stations and one looked at me and said that the charging stations have not been turned on and he doesn’t know when they will be, “if ever.”

If ever? I asked what he meant by that. He said everyone needs to get on the “same page” before it will be turned on. When I pressed for details, it seemed that the charging stations are caught in some sort of intractable bureaucratic limbo. Then I started asking what needs to happen and what I can do to help get the process moving forward so that the public, who evidently have already paid for the charging stations, can actually use them as intended.

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The other Ranger asked me to wait while she went in the back to talk to someone. She returned with a paper with the name and contact info for the park superintendent. She said the delay has something to do with getting an intermediary for the payment mechanism. There is a Liberty access control kedpad on each of the stations and the stations do have power but no apparent way to pay or authorize use to the public.

I have contacted the park superintendent and will update this post when I know more.

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Tesla Superchargers Coming to Maryland House Travel Plaza on I-95

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Tesla, in coordination with The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), and Areas USA, will be installing a Supercharger station at the Maryland House Travel Plaza on I-95 near Aberdeen. This location will be about 34 travel miles south of the Newark, DE Supercharger and 50 miles north of the Laurel, MD Supercharger.

Eight Charging Stalls Expected by Mid-October

“Tesla will be coming to the Maryland House with 8 charging stations,” said Carlos de Jesus, Director of Operations for Areas USA, operator of the Travel Plaza. “We expect them up and running by mid-October.” Tesla Superchargers are free for Tesla electric vehicle owners to use. The Superchargers can furnish up to 170 miles of range in as little as 30 minutes. Tesla will be paying the electric utility bill for the energy consumed by the Superchargers.

Superchargers are also being considered for the Chesapeake House Travel Plaza, 15 miles north of Maryland House. Those plans, including the proposed number of stalls, will be based on data gathered from the first year of usage at the Maryland House.

Universal DC Fast Chargers Also Planned

Two separate areas have been allocated for EV charging at each of the two Travel Plazas. One is for the Tesla Superchargers and the second area will be for charging stations that can be used by other electric vehicles, presumably with CHAdeMO and SAE Combo connectors. The operator intends to partner with a charging company other than Tesla to install those stations in the near future.

Maryland House is one of the busiest travel plazas in the country, serving nearly 3 million visitors a year. The operator plans to advertise the EV charging stations to visitors on video monitors inside the building.

@Lanny

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Signs Posted at Columbia Association EV Charging Stations

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Three Year Effort Pays Off
On March 4, 2013 I contacted the Columbia Association, a non-profit community organization that had recently used a U.S. Dept. of Energy grant and their own funds to install five EV charging stations at four of their facilities in Howard County, Maryland. I thanked them as an EV driver and suggested they post “no parking except for electric vehicle charging” signs at the charging stations since there were often gas vehicles parked in front of them.

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Other EV drivers also contacted them about the ICEing problem. The response we got was that they had designed blue signs that said, “Electric Vehicle Charging Station.” They added that they were not willing to post signs that restricted parking to electric vehicles only, in part, because there were no enforceable regulations similar to those for handicapped spaces. Continue reading

Regulatory Signs for EV Charging and Parking Facilities

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A Policy Statement issued June 17, 2013 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration addresses regulatory sign standards for electric vehicle charging and parking facilities. [Link to webpage]

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This Policy is intended to provide guidance based on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) for uniformity among regulatory signs used for on-street electric vehicle charging and parking sites.

This Policy can be shared with local officials and property owners that wish to have signs that conform to MUTCD specifications that are required in some jurisdictions in order for the police to enforce anti-ICEing laws. (legislation reference)

PDF of sign examples

Source: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Policy Memorandum.

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EV Fast Charging Coming to the Massachusetts Turnpike

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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to install electric vehicle fast charging stations at six 
service plazas along the Massachusetts Turnpike by the end of the year.

The 50kW DC Fast Chargers will support both CHAdeMO and SAE Combo connectors and are being installed by contractor, Voltrek, LLC of Andover, MA. The initial locations are planned for Framingham westbound, Natick eastbound, Charlton eastbound and westbound, Blandford westbound and Lee eastbound.

The first two chargers are expected to be operational by early fall and the other stations are expected to be finished by the end of 2016. MassDOT also plans to install six more DC Fast Chargers along I-90 in the future.

Donald Pettey, MassDOT highway project manager for strategic initiatives, said that a goal of the EV charging stations is to help increase adoption of electric vehicles in the state. Currently, there are nearly 7,000 plug-in electric vehicles registered in Massachusetts. EV adoption is also promoted through the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) program which has dedicated $3.7 million to increase the number of plug-in vehicles on the road.

Mr. Pettey says that each charging site will be built to accommodate future expansion. At least 200 kW of electrical service is planned at the locations which can support multiple 50 kW chargers or any high-output charging stations that may be available in the future.

The cost to use the charging stations has not been determined but they will be free for the first six months.

Travel Service Plazas & Tourist Information Centers

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New Jersey to Recognize Employers That Install EV Charging

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“NJ Charging Challenge: Electrify Your Workplace” program launched to recognize employers who install EV charging.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) wants to recognize the employers in New Jersey that are making their workplaces “Electric Vehicle-Ready.”

By providing workplace charging for electric vehicles, these employers are becoming more sustainable and are helping to reduce emissions of air pollutants from cars, improve the environment and improve the bottom line for their employees that drive to work. All employers are invited to participate, whether private, government, educational or non-profit.

How to qualify for recognition:

  • Install a minimum of 2 charging stations (Level 1/120 Volt or Level 2/240 Volt).
  • Installations as early as January 1, 2015 will be accepted.
  • Complete an NJ Charging Challenge application form and submit with proof of installation to DriveGreen@dep.nj.gov.
  • Parking spaces must be dedicated to charging station use only.
  • Recognition will include a certificate from the Department, as well as website recognition.
  • All applicants who meet the qualifications will receive recognition, but the top performers in the Charging Challenge will be honored at the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony at the end of the year.

For more information, visit www.drivegreen.nj.gov/programs.html

White House Announces Bold Plan to Accelerate Deployment of EV Charging Infrastructure in US

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The White House announced a plan to help put more electric vehicles on the road by accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The coalition of nearly 50 auto manufacturers, electric utilities, charging station companies, states  and organizations seeks to ensure that electric vehicle drivers will have access to charging stations at home, where they work, and while traveling on the road.

Highlights from the announcement include:

  • Unlocking up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees and inviting applications to support the commercial-scale deployment of innovative electric vehicle charging facilities;
  • Launching the FAST Act process to identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors, including for electric vehicle charging across the country, and standing up an effort to develop a 2020 vision for a national network of electric vehicle fast charging stations that will help determine where along the corridors it makes the most sense to locate the fast charging infrastructure;
  • Announcing a call for state, county, and municipal governments to partner with the Federal government to procure electric vehicle fleets at a discounted value;
  • Leveraging the power of data and hosting an ‘Electric Vehicle Hackathon’ to discover insights and develop new solutions for electric vehicle charging;
  • Publishing a guide to Federal funding, financing, and technical assistance for electric vehicles and charging stations; and
  • 35 new businesses, non-profits, universities, and utilities signing on to DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge and committing to provide electric vehicle charging access for their workforce.

Continue reading

CHAdeMO Connector Instruction Video

Using the CHAdeMO connectors on some DC Fast Chargers can be a challenge. There are buttons to press and levers to pull and release and they have to be done in the right order. Here is a short video by Yazaki that shows how to operate this kind of CHAdeMO connector.

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